That video of an all-female group of dancers brought in to entertain guests at a lawmaker’s birthday celebration has been circulated enough. Simulations of the sex act—dance steps, some call it—have been turned into memes and other means of blasting the yellow-shirted man onstage, the birthday celebrator, and the supposed sponsor of the girls, the chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority.
Online and off, Filipinos have weighed in on the issue. The anger is nearly universal. This was an event, after all, of a political party that prides itself in treading the straight path. The birthday bash comes right after the inauguration of 80 new members of the administration party, inducted by no less than the Liberal Party’s bet for the 2016 presidential race, former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
When the disturbing images broke traditional and social media, those in the party gave their own explanations of the extent of their participation. The gift-bearer, acknowledged by the master of ceremonies numerous times, denied vehemently that he was the one who asked the girls to provide entertainment. Why, he even asked them to wear skirts!
This is the same Francis Tolentino who spooked motorists who dared take a video of erring traffic enforcers, saying they may be charged of violating the Anti-Wiretapping Act. He wants to be our senator.
Birthday boy Rep. Benjamin Agarao said there was no malice in the dance number, because as a real man he found such acts to be the norm.
House Deputy Speaker Neptali Gonzales III had the gall to joke about investigating the matter in Congress just so he could watch a reenactment of the performance.
Roxas himself hinted he was not to be bothered by the dance number because he was too far removed from the stage to watch it. Some reports say he had left when the dancing started.
The leader of the House of Representatives said he was saddened by the event while the Senate President said he would not tolerate the lewd acts. The Palace issued a statement saying the President does not condone such displays of disrespect of women.
All these are doublespeak. Female entertainers have been a staple in political gatherings for the longest time. Today it’s the Liberal Party; on other days, it could be others. Today it could be the group that says it always treads the path of good governance; tomorrow, it could be others who say they care about the plight of women but are actually amorous toward many.
Then again, what do they care if the image of the party is tarnished? Their reason for donning yellow shorts, or any other color, is convenience. Their loyalty ends when their personal agenda runs in contrast to the wishes of the group.
The political party is just that, a party where strange things happen and everybody utters a copout when things do not go well.
It’s an issue of viewing women as objects, gifts to be given. It’s a question of propriety. It’s a malady of hypocrisy. It’s how base our politics has become. Everybody must have had one drink too many.